Several weeks later as I started the first training session with one of the groups I would facilitate, I was faced with arms crossed, a lack of talking between participants and a general lack of energy in the room. It wasn’t boredom, stress or fear that I could feel in the room – it was negativity.
The negativity that the group displayed manifested itself in several ways and could be heard through many different comments:
1. Introductions were short when shaking people’s hands and discussion was muted.
2. Management was referred to as ‘management’ or in discussion as ‘us and them’,
3. Comments about other staff were frequently derogatory and not in the other person’s presence,
4. Comments such as ‘we have tried that before’, ‘they don’t listen’ and ‘why bother’ prevailed when discussing areas for improvement or change.
5. Small examples of positive behaviour and ideas were quickly knocked down.
I remember commenting after the training that while I found the group interesting and enjoyed the training session, it felt like the life and positivity were being sucked out of me. While I find groups such as these the most challenging and rewarding to work with (and turn around), it takes an emotional toll and is a bit like being on a rollercoaster as you ride the ups and downs.
Is you team or work culture like this – generally negative and sucking the life out of you?
I contrast this with Business B. Business B felt positive and ‘up’ from the moment I met the first person.
a. Introductions were polite, eye contact was made and people had a smile on their faces,
b. ‘We did this’ and ‘we do that’ was the language of the day – there was no ‘us and ‘them’,
c. Negative comments were about behaviour and actions rather than about people and judgments,
d. New ideas (raised by either the group or me) were considered, debated and argued over to find the merit in them (and written down for future planning), and
e. One idea sparked another new idea and further comments.
I left the training session feeling like I had made a difference (similar to Business A), but I felt like I had just been a spark and that the energy came from the group. Rather than feeling drained, I felt buoyed by the response of the group and more energised than when I had started.
Is your business environment more like Business A or B? What choices can you make to change the environment that you work in? Do you need to be more positive in your work environment?
For more information on how to combat negativity, go to the article ‘The Insidious Effects of Negativity‘ at kameleons.com.au